Distant Early Warning Line

Editing of 'Ile d'Or'continues. There are lapses when I assume the editor is editing other books, arranging launches, etc. The publisher has books ahead of mine, coming out in April. I have been down this road before, so I have confidence that my novel will come out in May, as planned. That's not very far away, is it? In the meantime, there are fascinating questions that arise. Yesterday the editor wanted me to verify that it was really possible that the mother of one of the main characters could really have been a volunteer spotter of planes in the early to mid 1950s. Of course, I knew it was possible because my own mother had done this (all other similarities are accidental!!!), but figuring this wasn't going to be enough to convince her, I went onto the internet and read about the DEW line, established in the far north at that time. I also called my brother in Winnipeg because he had spent three years with the RCAF in the late fifties wiring these stations. The American government wanted them built to detect incursions of Soviet planes, considered a threat at that time. In an agreement with the Canadian government, the RCAF took on this work. During this period of deliberation and construction, fearing that some planes might fly in at low altitudes and not be picked up by radar, volunteer spotters were used in many locations in the US and certainly in the northern mining town in Quebec where I grew up. My mother was one of them, fascinated by the airplanes she did identify and count. I also found a couple of old newspaper articles through Google on this program of volunteer spotters, one from as far away as Florida.

When I relayed this information to my editor, she wrote back that what I'd sent her was fine. She had just wanted to make sure that someone didn't find some inaccuracy and embarrass me. Well, this memory of the character in the novel is as fuzzy as most memories and doesn't need nor have all the detail in that context, but now both she and I both know the detail behind the memory. It was fascinating to revisit information about that era.
Posted on March 18, 2010 .